Enemy variety, not just in looks but in behavior, function and difficulty is VERY important to a games design, even if many people don’t care about fighting the same 4 dudes all of the time. It’s something that can make or break a game because I just get bored and lose the sense of accomplishment when I take down bigger enemies and I never get to feel like a badass for killing grunts with a greater ease. Also all of these “realistic” games where every enemy takes the same amount of shots to kill get’s fucking OLD.
When implemented well, a good number of distinct enemies and (but not necessarily) mixed with palette swap upgrades creates a system of level design where the player always feels satisfied, no matter what he is doing and it can keep a player going through the whole game without feeling the need to shut off the game because of boredom. It keeps the player on his toes, especially when a lot of different “formation” types are used between bigger and smaller enemies, or even enemies of the same class but different palette swap difficulties.
Great gunfights: Vanquish, despite having a bad case of throwing some really cool moments into cutscenes, has no shortage of large scale gunfights that allow you to blow up a ton of enemies while navigating cover, slow mo and constant repositioning like any shooter worth it’s salt should. I guess this could be filed under the gameplay section, but it isn’t… so there.
Bosses!: And lots of them. In many games these days bosses are becoming more and more over looked, or looked on as the place for some new fangled cinematic gameplay that is usually a dumbed down version of the usual gameplay and not actually a bigger challenge. This is a mistake, I feel, because bosses shouldn’t just feel like a minor checkpoint in a level or lack presence. They need to be big and bad and all up in your face while feeling like a true accomplishment that allows further progression through an area or stage.
Vanquish throws out bosses whenever it can and does so in an awesome way. Most bosses have their blinking weak points that need to be attacked, extra forms they can turn into when you least expect it and often times have multiple ways of dispatching them. A few come to mind where I could have simply depleted the health bar, or with some minor positioning, be able to end a fight in one spectacular quicktime event that, if “failed’, just simply leaves you to regroup and try again.